Welcome everyone to our final community conversations during the fall term. I am David Kotz ’84, the interim provost. As always, I am joined by Justin Anderson, our vice president for communications from the Starr Instructional Studio in Berry Library, where we are recording today’s conversation in the morning of Nov. 10. Justin and I will be joined today by Sam Brook, a member of the undergraduate Class of 2025; Liz Lempres ’83, Thayer ’84, the chair of the Dartmouth Board of Trustees; and Shontay Delalue, Dartmouth’s inaugural senior vice president and senior diversity officer.
Before I introduce our guests, I’ll start with a brief campus update. The last time we spoke in mid-October we had only three active COVID cases across campus. Well, a lot can happen in a month. As of yesterday, we reported 26 active cases occurring over the prior seven days, 12 undergraduate students, two graduate students, and 12 employees. Five of the undergraduates are isolating on campus while the rest live off campus and are isolating at home. It’s worth noting that none of the employee cases appear to have occurred at the workplace, and we know of no cases of transmission between employees and students.
It isn’t just Dartmouth that is experiencing an increase in cases, however, over the past week, Grafton County saw an average of 46 new cases per day, compared to seven new cases per day on Nov. 3, Grafton County’s cases per capita are now at the highest level. At any time during the pandemic. This recent spike serves as a reminder of just how quickly things can change despite our rural location, strong COVID policies, and a vaccination rate over 95%. The fall term has gone reasonably well so far, but with the advent of colder weather, final exams, and holiday travel, I ask that you all remain especially careful during this time and continue to mask up, get tested, and remain safe.
Speaking of testing, I’m extremely encouraged to see our testing compliance percentages continue to climb. Nearly 80% of undergraduates and over 80% of graduate and professional school students were tested last week. It is extremely encouraging to see the rate of testing compliance continue to rise on a week-to-week basis. Please keep it up. I wish the same could be said for masking. We hate making these kinds of decisions, but we were forced to close the Alumni Gymnasium for the second time this term due to inconsistent mask compliance.
Not only am I hearing reports of students refusing to wear masks, but I was disheartened to hear that some have responded with inappropriate or rude comments when our staff tries to enforce our face covering policy. I know that this behavior is not a fair representation of the Dartmouth community and the gym closure is not fair for the majority of you who have been compliant. However, not only is this misconduct a threat to the health and safety of our community, but it has led directly to the loss of staff who support those spaces in the gym. In fact, we are losing staff on a weekly basis because they are unwilling to work in an environment where they feel unsafe or where some of the students are actively rude or resistant.
Keep in mind that we can only keep the gym open if we have sufficient staff to operate it safely. And if there is a subset of gym users whose rude behavior makes it so difficult to hire or retain staff, the gym will be open for significantly fewer hours and for shorter periods of time. Help us out here, folks. Keep your masks on and remind others to do so as well. Let’s keep the gym open. Unfortunately, this issue is not unique to the gym. The library is experiencing similar problems and none of us want to get to a point where the library is less open or open for fewer hours.
Now I know some of you question why we ask you to wear masks in the gym if people are not wearing them in the library, or why we ask you to wear masks in the library if we allow you to remove them while eating in FoCo? Well, it’s quite simple, it’s not possible to eat while wearing a mask. For the benefit of public health, for your health, please wear your mask everywhere indoors, except when you’re alone or when you are eating. It is important to wear masks to reduce the potential spread of the virus, especially now, as people spend more time indoors.
In fact, masking is one of the most important reasons we’ve been able to retain our in-person learning and in-person activities this fall. Now an update on vaccinations. As a reminder, Dartmouth has required all Dartmouth persons accessing the Dartmouth campus to be fully vaccinated with exemptions for medical or religious reasons since Sept. 1. More recently, the federal government issued an executive order that requires all institutions that do business with the government to ensure their employees are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8.
To be clear, this applies to all Dartmouth employees, including those who work elsewhere or who have been approved for fully remote work. All employees who are currently non-compliant or those who have not yet been granted an exemption have received several email messages with further information including notice of on campus vaccine clinics. You can also visit vaccines.gov to find other locations offering vaccinations. Employees who remain non-compliant on Dec. 9 will be placed on leave and are at risk of termination.
For those who are already vaccinated, we’ll be hosting on-campus booster clinic soon. Students can receive a booster shot on Nov. 16 and the employee clinic will be held on Dec. 7. Watch Vox daily for details. I know many parents were also excited to hear that the vaccine is now available to children ages five to 11. I encourage all parents to take their children to get vaccinated. You can find clinics on vaccines.gov. Although we spend a lot of time talking about the COVID vaccine, I want to remind everyone to get their annual flu shot.
This annual booster is vital for protecting yourself, your friends, your family, and your colleagues. We have been offering a free flu vaccine clinic on campus at Sarner Underground for all Dartmouth employees. Today is the last day of the free clinic, which is open until 6 p.m. tonight. If you miss that opportunity, though, many pharmacies and clinics in the area offer flu shots. Let’s now look ahead to winter term. For those of you who are planning to travel over the winter break, please keep COVID safety in mind and abide by local health protocols wherever you travel.
Before you return to campus, please try to get a COVID test. And if you happen to test positive, please isolate yourself at home and postpone your return to Hanover. Students who test positive should contact Dartmouth College Health Service for instructions on next steps. Employees who test positive should contact Axiom Medical for instructions. To make it easier, over the break, Dartmouth will email students who have a permanent address within the U.S. That message will provide a link to order a prepaid test kit to be sent to any address within the country.
Watch for this email and be sure to test prior to your return to Hanover. Please note that pre-arrival testing is only available to those students who have a permanent address in the United States. Once back on campus, students who are fully vaccinated must take a PCR test within 48 hours of arrival. Students arriving from an international location and are fully vaccinated will need to receive a second PCR test five days after arrival. Once students have completed arrival testing, they should begin their regular testing schedule.
Students who are not fully vaccinated will receive an antigen test and a PCR test upon arrival and an additional PCR test five days after arrival. In addition, non-vaccinated students must self-monitor for seven days, which includes wearing face coverings while indoors with double masking strongly recommended, limiting close interaction whenever possible, taking meals to go and double masking while in a vehicle with others. Please note students who never left the Upper Valley will not need to complete arrival testing, but must continue regular testing over winter break if they’re accessing campus.
Employees returning from winter break will follow the same schedule for screening testing as they do now. I fully expect we’ll continue to require masking indoors during the first weeks of winter term, while we watch for the potential of appearances of cases brought to Hanover by those returning from travel far and wide. I remain hopeful, however, that we will reach a point when we can relax our requirements around face coverings in shared indoor spaces. Reaching this goal is truly going to require the efforts of every member of the Dartmouth community.
We will need to see consistently high testing and masking compliance, which in turn should help us keep positivity rates as low as possible. Masking is not an all-or-nothing decision and we may continue to require face coverings in areas such as classrooms, but with your health, we can get to a point where we have sufficient confidence in the situation to relax masking in some indoor settings. We will continue to monitor the situation and plan to share more details at the start of winter term.
In the meanwhile, please keep your masks on and wherever you are indoors with other people, unless you are actively eating. We are experiencing a rise in COVID cases on campus and an all time high number of cases in the surrounding community, so please be safe and keep your friends and neighbors safe throughout the remainder of the term and into the holidays. Now, let me switch gears a bit and focus on mental health. In a prior edition of Community Conversations, we met Mark Reed, the director of student health services and the lead on Dartmouth’s new partnership with the Jed Foundation.
The Jed campus program works with colleges and universities across the country to develop programs that support student mental health and seek to reduce the potential for suicide. As we launch this four year effort this term, Jed and Dartmouth have asked all Dartmouth students, all students, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, to complete the Healthy Minds survey. This baseline survey measures such things as knowledge and attitudes about mental health and the climate around mental health and assesses campus climate around diversity and inclusion.
The survey takes only about 25 minutes to complete and the results will be vital in informing the initiatives that we develop in collaboration with the Jed Foundation later this academic year to create the best possible culture and resources around mental health. Currently, we have a response rate of 23%, but there is still time to share your perspective on this important endeavor. So please take a moment to fill out the survey before it closes at midnight on Nov. 18. Finally, let me take a moment to talk more broadly about campus safety.
As you know, this past weekend, several of our Ivy peers received bomb threats. Although none of them turned out to be credible and Dartmouth never received a threat, our director of safety and security has been in touch with our peers to ensure we remain aware of the investigations underway. Coincidentally, Dartmouth is conducting its annual test of its emergency notifications systems today, as in just a few moments before the broadcast of this episode of Community Conversations. Dartmouth’s emergency notification system, known as DartAlert, is a multimodal system to deliver automated messages to all Dartmouth affiliated email addresses, campus landline phones, and the personal mobile phones of registered users.
In addition, DartAlert delivers a notification to all computer screens that have installed the ALERTUS desktop notification software, and displays a temporary banner on the Dartmouth homepage. It also activates the outdoor mass notification system, which is a set of sirens and outdoor speakers that are incredibly loud. Indeed, they can be heard outdoors up to 10 miles from campus. Although today’s exercise is only a test, in a real emergency DartAlert would provide specific instructions to help our community stay safe.
This is a great time for everyone who accesses the Dartmouth campus to register your mobile phone with DartAlert. It’s quick and it’s easy. Visit the emergency preparedness website at dartgo.org/emergencypreparedness, all one word, to sign up. This quick step could truly make a difference in ensuring your safety and the safety of our campus in the event of an emergency. Well, that’s it for the campus update. So now let’s welcome Justin Anderson, our vice president for communications, to see if we have any questions from the community.
Hi Dave, nice to see you. And in fact, we do have questions. I’m going to start with the question that I have probably received most often this week, predictably it’s about the closure of the gym. This is the second time that we felt it necessary to make this decision and each time it has caused significant backlash. It was less of a surprise this time, but it was equally frustrating, I think, for many members of the community. And the question sort of about the closure that I am hearing most often is why we don’t simply ban or suspend those people in the gym who are not in compliance?
It’s not a mystery after all who these people are. We can see that they are not complying. So why not just respond on an individual basis so that the gym can stay open and those who are in compliance, which is the majority of folks in the gym, can continue to do so? So I guess that’s the question that I’m hearing most often. Why the complete closure rather than just go after the offending individuals?
Yeah, Justin, great. That’s a great question. I get asked that question a lot as well. I think the challenge is that it is increasingly frustrating and difficult for the staff who remind people, often repeatedly, to wear their masks, to escalate that situation to one where they’re asking that person to leave or putting them on a list of people who are banned. But I understand we have banned some individuals from the gym for repeated noncompliance, but it becomes especially difficult for the staff to escalate in a situation where—to escalate in a situation where the person, the gym user, is rude or combative, and we don’t want to put our staff in a situation where they are feeling unsafe.
It’s a balancing act as with so many of these things, between maintaining staff safety and staff stress levels, but also maintaining the health and safety of the gym as a whole. Unfortunately, we felt in this situation that there were a sufficient number of situations that were repeating over and over that we needed to take more drastic measures. We hope that people will understand the inconvenience of a two-day closure and also, those who have not been as compliant will now respect the staff and respect the rules and respect the safety of everyone else in the gym.
Dave, you mentioned mental health in your opening remarks. Let me just say first that I know how grueling this term has been, this year has been, and this pandemic has been for everyone. You said that the fall has gone reasonably well, and I think it has, but it doesn’t mean it hasn’t taken a toll on all of us. This is really hard and it continues to be really hard. I just want to acknowledge that for folks out there who are watching. With that, I’d like to ask about the mental health survey that you mentioned. First, why is it important? You mentioned a rather low response rate. So why is it important that we get that response rate up, number one? Number two, people have asked why we are surveying at all when we know that people are struggling? Shouldn’t we focus on the actions that we should be taking or need to take rather than continued diagnosis?
Yes, thanks Justin. It has indeed been a difficult fall term, a difficult year, and I understand the challenges that many students and faculty and staff have been facing this year. Now, I don’t see this as an either/or that we’re not doing a survey and wasting time postponing action. We’re doing both. I think this is both an immediate challenge and a long-term challenge. The immediate actions we’ve been taking are hiring additional counselors and wellness coordinators, expanding the hours and coverage for on-call nursing and so forth. Meanwhile, we’re also surveying students to better understand the broader, longer term challenges that we face, so we can develop more effective strategies for the remainder of the year, for the coming years. Over the course of the four-year partnership with Jed, put into place a much more lasting, much more effective, much more impactful campus climate and mental healthcare system as a whole.
Dave, we have time for one more question. This one was submitted by a community member. It’s actually a two-parter. First, how is contact tracing working? Is it effective? Second, do Greek life houses pose a great COVID risk? The second one is a good one. It’s actually not something that we’ve heard too much about, despite the obvious risks associated with large gatherings indoors, maybe not the best mask hygiene. I read in The D this morning that some Greek events had been canceled out of precaution. I’m just wondering if you can comment just on how it’s going in the Greek houses, to the extent that that’s something that we know?
Sure. To the extent that I know as well, there was a two-part question you pointed out. The first part was about contact tracing and Dartmouth does do contact tracing. Dick’s House handles it for student cases and Axiom Medical for employee cases. They work immediately, and with the affected person, the person who has tested positive, to try to identify all of that person’s recent contacts, and then to reach out to those people and ask them to be tested and ask them to take extra precautions during the first few days when they may counter another emerging COVID case. My understanding is that contact tracing is helpful. It’s not perfect because not everyone can remember all of the places they’ve been, all the people they’ve been with, but we do it as quickly and as effectively as we can.
Your second question was about Greek houses or Greek life in general, and whether that is a place for greater COVID risk. I certainly can’t quantify it, but it is a place where a lot of students hang out and join larger gatherings and events. I understand that the Greek life system has been talking about ways that they can manage events to maintain COVID safety, as well as the other necessary measures for safety. I would just then encourage the students in particular, the Greek life council to do their part, to help ensure that students who participate in Greek life can be as safe as possible. Especially over the next couple of weeks, given that we have a higher COVID occurrence on campus and around campus than we have in recent months, and given the colder weather and given the onset of fall final exams in a couple of weeks.
OK, so thanks, Justin. Now, I’d like to introduce a special guest, Sam Brook, from the Class of 2025. Hi, Sam. Thanks so much for joining us. I understand you had a very interesting experience this summer, volunteering at a medical facility and at a pharmacy in your home state of Missouri. Can you tell me a little bit about these experiences and how it changed your perception of COVID-19?
Yeah, of course. Thank you so much Provost Kotz for having me. Yeah, so I interned for five months at a county’s health department in Kansas City, Kansas. I started at the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and that’s where the bulk of my work was centered. I did everything from helping Spanish-speaking members of the community to fill out consent forms, to writing data analytics-driven research papers that would eventually help inform the state and county. I focused on how to increase vaccination rates among minority groups and what that looked like logistically. I kind of drew best practices from other cities and counties across the country to inform my recommendations and research. I also worked as a pharmacy technician over the summer. Watching behind the scenes, one of the most integral parts to the vaccine rollout throughout the pandemic.
Kind of both of these opportunities allowed me to see and appreciate how much work the public health sector was doing in the last two years and honestly, see how underappreciated they had been throughout the last decades, whether that be through funding or just through exposure from the general public. It also changed my perception of COVID-19 in the sense that it made me understand more and more how it is affecting people. I was able to see and hear the stories of sacrifice many people had made before receiving the vaccine, whether that be staying inside for months, seeing their loved ones pass from it, things like that. Before both of these opportunities, I had an understanding of the ramifications of the pandemic, but I believe I gained valuable insight into every other aspect of the pandemic, through my internship and work that I probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
Wow. That’s amazing, Sam, and thanks for volunteering and supporting that effort. I’m sure it made a big difference. Speaking of COVID, I understand that once you arrived at Dartmouth, you tested positive for the virus in your first week of classes. How was that and how was your experience isolating at the beginning of your Dartmouth career?
Yeah, I mean, in a word it was isolating. I mean, it sucked, but that’s the nature of self-isolation and kind of what is necessary. The hardest part of it for me was doing the Zoom classes while everyone else was in person. Then kind of effectively having to start anew, when I got out of isolation and went into physical class again. There’s also the interview aspects of clubs and trying to kind of get my way around, get my wits about me at the school before, kind of, things started picking up. I will say more to my friends and family, something that’s really invaluable and something like self-isolation. In a sense, I was lucky that I got it at the beginning of the term before things did start to ramp up along with how mild my symptoms were. Like I said, I was really lucky and it’s sad that a lot of people don’t have that mild of symptoms, so it was isolating, but I think obviously necessary in limiting exposure and spread.
Yeah, I’m sure that it was a big challenge. I’m glad to hear that your symptoms were mild and that you had the support of friends and family were able to get through that and then rejoined the Dartmouth community and experienced the full fall term set of activities and academics. That’s great. In some ways you’re an unusual member of our community, somebody who has experience in a medical setting and somebody who has had the virus and given that perspective, do you have any advice for your fellow classmates? What can they do to help us help them, help their friends and help the rest of Dartmouth remain safe and healthy?
Yeah, so, I mean, get vaccinated if you haven’t, that is our single greatest tool against this pandemic. It’s amazing to see that so much of the Dartmouth community has been vaccinated, but I understand that there are some people that are holding on and I just implore you that the potential effects to the vaccine are so much less versus the potential side effects to the actual virus. I would just implore that. I think testing informs decisions so much so, especially through Dartmouth, so that if more people test we’ll have a better understanding of what policies we need to keep in place and what policies we don’t. Now, I will say, I do agree with much of the student body and that the policies and messaging from the college have been confusing in the past, but that in no way is a cause to not mask up, not vaccinate, and not test because those three things are so important to the kind of quelling this pandemic. I would just implore my peers to do those things.
Oh, that’s great. Thanks Sam. I appreciate that. That makes a lot of sense. Thanks for your time today. I know you have to run off the class soon, best wishes for the remainder of the term and for the holiday season. I hope to see you on campus sometime soon. Take care.
Thank you so much, Provost Kotz.
Let me now introduce today’s other two guests, Liz Lempres, a member of the Dartmouth Class of 1983 and Thayer Class of 1984, now the chair of Dartmouth’s board of trustees, and Shontay Delalue, Dartmouth’s inaugural senior vice president and senior diversity officer. I’ve just a couple of questions for each of you before we hear from Justin.
I’ll start with Liz. It’s a pleasure to have you with us today. You stepped into the board of trustees and chair position at a unique time in Dartmouth history as we face a global pandemic and the disruption it has caused to higher education generally, and Dartmouth’s campus, specifically. In this context, from your perspective, how has the experience of the last 18 months changed Dartmouth? How do you take what we’ve learned over the last year and set ourselves up for a future none of us imagined two years ago? Are there long-held assumptions about what we do and how we do it that we should reconsider?
Well, thank you, Dave. A pleasure to be here with you and everyone else today. As you said, it is an interesting time to say the least, and I would say there is some good news, right? If you look at where we are, the campus is buzzing. I was there last weekend and I’m sure every family that was there for Family Weekend, every alum who was there for homecoming and various times this term, were thrilled to see students just going about their daily life in a very, very normal way. That’s terrific, but as you said, it’s been a very difficult year for everyone. Sacrifices made, tragic loss of life. I think our community is still recovering and healing, and I think we’ve learned some things and I know that’s what you wanted to get to. I think the first thing we’ve learned is we’ve lost some trust with our community and we need to rebuild that. Part of that is communicating more and more transparently, not only with students, but with their families.
Another is giving more agency to students and bringing them into decision-making. To me, a wonderful example of that was the decision on how to set up and modify freshman trips so that we could have those trips, have everyone be safe and the trip leaders actually making those decisions. The other thing I think we’ve learned is that when we think about Dartmouth education, I don’t know what the right language is. In the trustee meeting last weekend, people started using the term holistic. Meaning, it’s an academic experience, but it is so much more than that. It is the Dartmouth experience that takes learning outside of the classroom, relationship-building, actually enjoying and having some fun, and really thinking about what that Dartmouth experience means.
We’re trying to learn from that. Mental health is a big piece of it that you’ve talked about. Housing is a big piece of it that I know has been discussed in other sessions, and I’m happy to take questions on or talk about more. The work that Shontay is doing in diversity and inclusion, I think we have learned, and we’ve always known those things are important, but we have learned that they really are essential.
And then I think there’s a whole different leg of this, which is we’ve learned a lot about technology. We’ve learned that we don’t love having all of our classes online; I don’t think that is a surprise to anyone. But what is a little bit of a surprise is that we are finding that certain courses, from the professor’s perspective and the student’s perspective, actually work well in an online forum.
And is there an opportunity to enhance that student experience by leveraging technology, by allowing people to take classes remotely where it fits in with their deep plan or allows them to do internships? I think we’re early in that thinking, but certainly something that our appetite for thinking about that is much, much greater than it was 18 months ago.
Yeah, yeah, thanks Liz. Those are all questions and issues that I’m dealing with everyday, and eager to work on in the future as well.
So let me now turn to Shontay, welcome Shontay. It’s great to have you with us. You have the distinction of being the first person at Dartmouth with the title senior vice president and senior diversity officer. Can you tell us a little bit about that position and about the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity? I understand the work of IDE serves all students, staff and faculty across the whole campus.
Yes. Thank you, Dave. And it’s a pleasure to be with you here. And in my role, it is an inaugural role, and what I would say is that the work of the office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion at Dartmouth has been occurring for some time. And so while I’m the first with this particular position, I do want to acknowledge that there’s been work and leaders really spearheading this work for a long time.
And so something that comes to mind is we had the composer and trumpeter Terence Blanchard on campus recently, and many may know he’s the first Black African American to be at the Met in New York with a show. And in terms of his being a first, he said, “I’m the first recognized, I’m not the first qualified.” And that’s how I think about my own role, excited to be in this inaugural role, and to really continue to expand upon the great foundation that has already been laid.
And so in terms of the office, first thing that I thought about was the configuration of the office. So in this elevation of this role, I now report to the president and sit on the senior leadership team, which is critically important and signals to our campus community how important and integral diversity, equity, and inclusion is to all of what we do across the institution.
For the office itself we have two major arms, there’s diversity and inclusion, which really thinks about the strategic initiatives that will help us to continue to do great work across the campus. And then there’s equity and compliance, and that’s where policies and procedures around Title IX, discrimination and harassment, equal opportunity affirmative action live, as well as our inaugural ADA 504 coordinator, who thinks about doing coordination for ADA 504 across the institution with colleagues who are spread across the college, as well as the professional school and graduate school.
And so we’re excited to embark on this new engagement of the work across the campus, and really serve as a partner and a consultant with our colleagues, students, faculty, staff, to ensure that diversity, equity, and inclusion is centered in how we do our work, our lives, our study at Dartmouth.
That’s great, thanks Shontay. It’s been great working with you so far. We’ve already had a huge impact. So welcome again to Dartmouth. And I look forward to working with you as the year goes on.
I’ll turn back to Liz now to talk about the capital campaign, which had some exciting news a few weeks ago; we had reached the $3 billion target for the Call to Lead capital campaign. But we’re not done as I understand it. There are still a few of the important goals that are not yet fully funded. And I know this may be a little confusing, we’ve met the target, but we haven’t. So can you help us understand what this means and what work we have ahead of us?
Well, first of all, Dave, it is amazing the achievement of the target, as you say. And it’s obviously through the generosity of alumni, and parents, and students in some cases, and friends of Dartmouth. So let me start by saying thank you to everyone who’s been a part of that. There have been an amazing network of volunteers working with the Advancement office.
Great institutions have great aspirations. And I think when you start to achieve some, it opens your eyes to the others that you could aspire to. Phil’s articulated, I think in a way that resonates with me at least, one is around investing in talent. And when I say that I’m talking about financial aid, I’m talking about programs to enable us to attract and retain faculty of color, to think through innovative programs at postdoc and graduate level. So a lot of the campaign that remains is around filling some of those aspirations around talent.
And second is, as you said, making sure we finish well what we started strong. And that’s in innovation and creativity, a perfect example of that is the West End where we still have some fundraising to do for the Center for Engineering and Computer Science. We also want to expand the computer science faculty. So that’s a little bit of a double dip back to my talent point.
The Irving Institute, where there’s a significant amount of programming that’s going to bring that building to life, and the Hop, it’s important that we’re investing in all aspects of Dartmouth. We have spent significant energy and effort appropriately in STEM, and the West End, and creativity, but we also need to make sure that we’re staying up to date in the arts and humanities. And I’ll get to that in a second. So the Hop is a big component of that.
And from the humanities, we also have the Dartmouth Hall, which is now funded, but an important part of that innovation and creativity.
And then finally there’s a bucket of things that I think fit into wellness, inclusion, helping people be their best self at Dartmouth. Shontay has already talked about some of the work that she is doing, but particularly in faculty diversity we have an opportunity and a need, and that’s where some of this additional funding will go.
Student mental health, which you’ve talked about, and I don’t think we can talk about enough. And then finally something that feels a bit more practical, but I know that students and particularly parents who are listening would appreciate, we have work to do in career and professional development, and getting that office to be able to provide the level of support and the kind of diverse interests that students have.
So again, talent, innovation, creativity, and making sure people can be really successful, that’s where the additional fundraising is going to be focused.
Great, thanks Liz, I appreciate that. Shontay I have one more question for you before we turn back to Justin, and that is one aspect of your job which relates to assessing some of the existing programs that have been launched over the last decade or so, such as Moving Dartmouth Forward, Inclusive Excellence, and the Campus Climate and Culture Initiative, or C3I. Tell me a little bit about these endeavors and how they come together under your office.
Yes. So as you mentioned, these initiatives have been launched at different times over the last decade. And so Moving Dartmouth Forward was in 2015, Inclusive Excellence in 2016, followed by C3I in 2019.
And so one of the central factors, they all had very distinct areas with some overlap in terms of really helping the campus think about how it can become the best place that is inclusive to all members from a variety of backgrounds.
And so with Moving Dartmouth Forward, it really focused on various things specific to our climate. And so one of the central factors that is woven throughout all three is, “How are people engaged on our campus and how can they have the best experience, whether as employees or students.” And so from my office’s vantage point, when we are thinking about climate and how students engage, and faculty, and staff, it’s really critical to think about the climate on campus.
And so what we’re doing now is we’re assessing each of the three, this is the perfect time, we’re about six years out from the oldest initiative, to really take just some time to review each of the three, determine what goals did we set, how have we achieved those goals, and where there’s still gaps?
We always understand in this work that’s always worked still to be done. What our ultimate goal is, to take the three and combine them to create a comprehensive institutional diversity, equity, and inclusion plan that will really speak to a number of issues that can move the needle forward in positively impacting our climate.
Great Shontay, this is such important work. Thank you, and I look forward to seeing that plan and working with you to help implement it.
So Justin, now back to you to see if we have other questions for the guests.
Thanks, Dave. And Liz, I’m going to start with you with a bit of a follow-up to the question that Dave asked about the success of the campaign and Dartmouth having surpassed $3 billion in fundraising.
We also recently announced that our endowment investments generated a return of 46.5% for the last fiscal year, bringing the endowment’s current value to above $8 billion.
Dartmouth was not alone in these extraordinary returns. In fact, there were more than a few institutions who had returns that were higher than Dartmouth’s. So it was really an extraordinary year in so many different ways.
So as a board member, how do you think about extraordinary numbers like this? Like the endowment, like the campaign figures, what do they mean to Dartmouth today and in the future? And how should, say, a current student think about these numbers and what they mean?
I mean, we are fortunate. We have an unbelievably loyal alumni base and friends of Dartmouth. We have an extraordinarily talented investment staff, and we have an administration that is really good at budgeting and managing the financials. So it puts us in a very strong place.
Now this year, as you said, was extraordinary. The 10-year average is about a 12% to 13% return. So if Alice Ruth were here, she would be reminding us that we should not be expecting 46% every year.
Having said all that, no matter how you cut it, that is a lot of resources. And we have an obligation, I think, to invest that resource wisely against strategic priorities that are going to benefit the College in the long term. But we also have to do some things to recognize that people have worked really hard and put a lot of sacrifice into keeping Dartmouth running in the last year-and-a-half. And that needs to be recognized through this financial success as well.
So a couple of things. I guess I’m a little bit of a broken record on this, but financial aid is a huge piece of what Dartmouth is prioritizing. It’s so critical to ensuring we bring the best and the brightest, that we can support our diversity goals, that we can continue to be the distinctive university that we are.
So we’ve done a few things. We’ve eliminated family contribution. That’s the amount the family is expected to contribute to tuition, room, and board for all families up to $65,000. We’ve eliminated student loans up to $125,000 of family income. So that’s a real direct benefit to any family who’s affected by that right now.
During this campaign, we’ve been able to fund 300 new scholarships. That helps both current students and obviously students in the future. So that is a big component of how we’re taking this money and investing it.
We also have facilities and programs, we’ve talked about it, the West End, computer science and engineering, Irving, Dartmouth Hall, hopefully soon the Hop. We’re going to continue to invest, not just in buildings, but in programming and faculty to make sure that we’re delivering just exceptional education.
And then housing, so one of the things we did last spring is we agreed as trustees to distribute more of the endowment every year, a half a point more, and that’s a really big deal. You don’t take that lightly, because the endowment has to support Dartmouth for generations to come.
But we did decide that it was important to get housing funded. We increased that distribution, and when you increase the distribution and then the size of the endowment increases dramatically, that creates significantly more money. And that’s going to fund our renovation of the dorms, which will start next summer, take 10 years by the time we’re through every building, but we’re starting.
And then we’re also doing some things to recognize people as I mentioned before, folks are working really hard. So we’ve increased the minimum wage for students who work on campus. We put in place a special bonus for eligible employees. We’re trying to make sure that we simultaneously balance our obligation to ensure Dartmouth is on sound financial footing for the next 100 years, we want to also make sure that we’re investing that money in the places Dartmouth needs it, and also helping out people right now. So it’s a long-winded answer, but hopefully it’ll give folks a sense that we really do realize how fortunate we are and what a big obligation that is on our part to make sure that we use that money well, and that we help people in the near term.
Shontay, I’m going to go back to you now for a question that was submitted by a community member and that community member asks, “Could Dr. Delalue walk us through some of the changes that she’s made to the IDE space since starting, and I’d love to hear her thoughts and first impressions of Dartmouth as well.”
Great. Thanks for that question from the community. So one of the things that we’ve done with the IDE space, I’ll speak literally about the physical space. Many may know that we have wonderful office spaces on the garden level of Parkhurst Hall, one of the administration buildings on campus where our Title IX office has a suite. And then the old version of the Institutional Diversity Equity office suite also existed.
What we are doing, what we now have also in addition to those spaces is an office space on the third floor of Parkhurst Hall, where my office is, my executive assistant, and then the associate vice president for strategic initiatives, Chloe Poston. So we will, in the start of the spring, have an open house because we want our community to come and feel welcome in the space and understand what we do. So we’ll be hosting an open house in the spring. So please be on the lookout for that information in the spring.
In terms of what I’ve done, I think I said it a bit earlier, but thought about the strategic design of the office and split the office into two arms. The reason for doing that is, diversity and inclusion is about. Diversity is composition. Who’s on campus? Who’s not on campus? What groups should we be thinking about recruiting and retaining? Inclusion is about once those individuals are on campus, how do we make sure that they have a sense of belonging, right? And you create strategy around those areas across the institution to ensure that we are all working toward the same goals.
On the equity and compliance side, it’s really about thinking about the policies and procedures we want to have in place that are fair and equitable and clear so that when and if someone in our community doesn’t live up to the values we’ve set forward, we have a process by which to engage the community members to hold individuals accountable.
Those two things go hand in hand. If we see ourselves as a microcosm of the United States, then that means that there may be issues that crop up on our campus, right? We’re a community of a substantial size in terms of thousands of people with different engagement with the campus. And so those two arms allow us to really elevate the wonderful nature of having a diverse community with being able to attend to issues as they arise, and so both really are important.
In terms of my first impressions and things, I have been so ... I felt welcome. I can’t stress it enough, my family, I moved here with my husband, my son who’s 6, and my daughter who’s 16 and it’s still four or five months in and we still are really feeling how special the Dartmouth community is.
Wherever we go, we really do feel a sense of community and that we can help to even expand that even more. And so that’s what I’m excited about. You know, there are opportunities for change. One of the things that I think I’ve heard and I’ve seen that we can improve upon is just being more proactive. There are a lot of great stories at Dartmouth and sometimes what gets the spotlight is the negative story. And we shouldn’t shy away from the things that occur on campus and that we need to address, but I think we also need to spend some time really elevating the positive things that are happening on campus so that we can really take pride in the great work that’s happening across the institution.
Liz, we have time for one more question before we go back to Dave, and this is another question about the Dartmouth board. It is of course the board for all of Dartmouth, Tuck, Thayer, Geisel, Guarini, arts and sciences, the entire institution. At this past weekend’s board meeting, I know that you heard from the deans of all of the schools, of the professional schools and the graduate school. So, I’m curious how the board thinks about how Dartmouth can and should leverage it’s very specific and unique mix of schools and areas of excellence in order to offer a truly distinctive, as well obviously as excellent experience?
Yeah, it’s a very good question. And thank you for pointing out I think one of the things that people sometimes get confused on about the board, is we’re not the board of the undergraduate institution, we are the board of the whole entity and each of those graduate professional schools has an advisory group, but they really are advisory and we have the ultimate responsibility. So, thank you for making that clear.
You know, you hear the phrase All Dartmouth, you hear the phrase One Dartmouth, I’m not sure what the right nomenclature is, but this idea that the whole is greater than the sum of the pieces. And so this weekend, as you said, we were doing a deep dive on the graduate and professional schools with a real focus on the future. We ask the deans to come to us and say, don’t tell us about what’s happening today, give that to us as background so we make sure we’re all on the same page about where we are. But spend your time talking about where do you want to be five and 10 years from now and how is that not only going to benefit you and your school, but how is that going to benefit at Dartmouth as an institution?
First thing I would say is, there is already a lot of collaboration that goes on. So you have Geisel and Tuck coming together for joint MD/MBA programs. You have Geisel and Thayer coming together for biotechnology engineering. You have Irving and Thayer coming together. So there’s a lot of collaboration that goes on across those graduate and professional schools. Not as much as there could be, and that’s a big opportunity. But there’s also a lot of benefit to the undergraduate institution. When you think about, for example, the number of undergraduates who work and do research at Geisel.
So I would say we’re not starting from ground zero, but there’s a recognition that we could be doing a lot more. So for example, are there additional kinds of joint programs, certificate programs perhaps, but more likely masters and other programs that we could have the graduate and professional schools collaborating with? Is there an opportunity for more Dartmouth undergrads to get business experience by taking more classes designed for undergrads at Tuck? You know, we already have an accounting class and a strategy class and a marketing class for undergrads. They are well over-subscribed, which means it’s mostly seniors who can take them. And I would argue as someone who spent a career in business, that access to those kinds of skills is so much more helpful earlier in your college career as you think about internships and other things.
So what are the things that we can be doing? And I think we’re uniquely placed because we are in a location where everybody is working together and everybody sees each other because you’re walking across the street. At the same time, I think the necessity for us is even greater. We are a small school and we continue to love it. At the same time, for us to not fully leverage our scale, I just think that’s a misdirected strategy. So, a lot of excitement and enthusiasm, not only about how those individual schools can excel, how they can work together and how they can benefit undergrads.
Thanks, Liz. And thank you, Shontay. Dave, I’m going to throw it back to you to take us home.
- Thanks, Justin. We have time for just one more question. And this is for Liz. “Co-education is one of the three 50th anniversary events Dartmouth will be celebrating in this coming year. Ultimately, it was a vote by the board of trustees that turned Dartmouth from an institution that admitted only men into one that admitted men and women. This was a historic decision, one that in retrospect, of course, seems like a no-brainer, but at the time the board and President Kemeny took a lot of heat for that decision. Can you reflect on that decision and what lesson you take from it in your role today as chair of the board of trustees?
Yeah, very interesting. So, as you said this is one of a series of milestones and celebrations this year, including Black Alumni at Dartmouth, as well as the recommitment to Native Americans. So it’s going to be a really exciting year for the school in general. So in our last board meeting, last week, we had the College archivist come and talk to us about the decision and the board’s role. It was fascinating.
I took away a couple of things. One is that there was enormous pressure in the positive sense for coeducation from students, from faculty, from all except the older alumni body. The whole context of what was going on in the country at that time between ’68 and ’71, ’72 was really pushing for change. And I would say, the board played an important role because at the end of the day they had to approve it.
But, I think they took their time. We were the second to last Ivy to go co-ed. The only other one that went more slowly was Harvard. They had a different situation with Radcliffe. The trustees and some folks were thinking maybe we should create our own Radcliffe as opposed to integrating. Then they decided, ”Well, maybe we could do it, but over the next five years." So there was a series of steps, and there’s a part of me, as a board member, that says it is so important to have some group taking a methodical look at things. And another part of me says that particularly now when the world is moving so quickly, we as a board need to be able to be more nimble, to make decisions more quickly, to listen to the community, but also take the long term view for Dartmouth.
So I think it was actually quite instructive to the board about the importance of both methodical analysis and data, as well as having, quite frankly, the vision and the courage to make change. I think it was a huge step forward for Dartmouth, obviously, that’s what created the D-Plan, in addition to women coming, I think it also showed us that you could make big changes at Dartmouth without eroding the unique value proposition and what makes Dartmouth special. That’s a really important lesson for the board.
Yeah. Thank you. I, for one, a, personally grateful for that decision 50 years ago and certainly Dartmouth is a far better place for it. So now I just want to thank everyone for joining us today. Thanks to Justin, as always, for your help in organizing Community Conversations. And by the way, Justin, congratulations for completing the Los Angeles Marathon in under your target time, a great achievement, just two days ago.
And thank you Liz and Shontay for joining us today and for your hard work in support of the entire Dartmouth community. I look forward to working with you in the year ahead. And finally, many thanks to all of you for attending today’s Community Conversations. This is the last episode for the fall, and I want to wish everyone a safe, restful holiday season. We’ll be back in the winter with more Community Conversations.